As I write this (on Monday), it is warm and sunny and I am looking forward to sitting out on the lawn in Avila Beach listening to the San Luis Symphony Pops concert this weekend. I will be wearing sun screen and a hat to protect myself from the sun. Sun induced cancers are quite common in animals, particularly those with thin hair or unpigmented skin. White dogs, such as Dalmatians and Bulldogs, who like to sunbathe, will often develop a cancer called squamous cell carcinoma on their bellies. Greyhounds, Whippets and Italian Greyhounds of all light colors are more prone to a tumor called hemangiosarcoma. Both of these tend to be relatively easy to treat if caught early – surgical removal is often curative. Cats with white noses, ears or eyelids tend to get a more aggressive form of squamous cell carcinoma. The tumor tends to almost eat away or melt away the tissue around it. Cure requires early aggressive surgery or radiation therapy. Because of the location of these tumors on cats, surgery can be disfiguring – but beauty is in the eye f the beholder. You can see here my own cat who had both of her ears removed many years before this picture was taken.
Preventing these cancers is far better than trying to treat them. Keep light colored pets out of the sun from 10am to 4pm daily. It may help to have dogs wear a t-shirt or to have pink noses tattooed. For more cancer information, come see us or give us a call.
by Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP